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advices for a 8 days vacation at Rocky mountain national...

Kansas city
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advices for a 8 days vacation at Rocky mountain national...

Hi. I am going to visit Rocky mountain on May 21 to May 29, 2006, driving from Kansas City. This will be my first trip over there. Would you tell me some tips about where to stay, what to see in these 8 days. Thanks, Katie.

Littleton, Colorado
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1. Re: advices for a 8 days vacation at Rocky mountain national...

Hi Katie, you’re really going to love RMNP and Estes Park – it’s an awesome part of the world! Estes has a lot of different places to stay and you’re going to be there before the high summer season, so you should find good rates just about everywhere. My favorite place to stay is The Woodlands on Fall River which has condo-type units with a full kitchen, bbq grill, deck or patio and a communal hot tub. There are also many other places to stay on Fall River Road, which is a pretty, wooded area close to one of the park entrances, but only a short drive from downtown Estes.

Of course, Rocky Mountain National Park is what you’ll want to see and you’ll have plenty of time to explore the east side of the park and try a lot of different hiking trails. There should be plenty of wildlife like elk, coyote and bighorn sheep to see in different areas of the park. Unfortunately, Trail Ridge Road will probably be closed until Memorial Day Weekend, although I believe it has opened earlier in years when the weather has been warmer in May. If it’s open, you can go across the park to the west side and visit Grand Lake. Nevertheless, the east side of the park has plenty to see. Here’s a great website that details hiking trails that you’ll want to consider: thespiritoftherockies.net/spirit/HikingRMNP.…

As far as what else to do, you could go horseback riding, even if you’re a novice like me. Try these stables: http://www.cowpokecornercorral.com/ Estes is a pretty small town with the traditional souvenir shops and restaurants, but you could see the bulk of it in an afternoon. You might consider daytrips to Loveland which is home to a lot of sculptors and art galleries or even Boulder, less than an hour’s drive away.

Be sure to bring warm clothing because you still could run into winter weather (last year in June, we got snowed on!) Hopefully, it will be a great week, weather-wise and scenery-wise. Have fun!

Fort Collins...
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2. Re: advices for a 8 days vacation at Rocky mountain national...

You will have memories to last forever! My family is lucky enough to live less than a 2 hour drive from RMNP, and we usually vacation there once or twice a year. Our favorite place to stay is the YMCA campground. It's HUGE -- check out their web site (YMCA of the Rockies, Estes Park Center), and it directly abuts RMNP -- you can walk in. Has its own livery, restaurants, cafe, recreation center, pool, laundromat -- and it's all very quaint without being tacky. Cabins vary from fairly spartan (about $85) to very nice. They also have lodges, if you would prefer a motel-type room.

As to what to do, that depends on what you like. We always go into the park and take a hike or two. I recommend buying a hiking guide, as there are so many choices. Bear Lake is probably the most popular, and since you are going to be there slightly off-season, it shouldn't be overly crowded. It really is a gorgeous place, and from there you can hike to (at least) 2 lakes higher up the mountain. (I think there is a third, but I've never gotten that far!)

I love anything to do with wildlife, so I'm always looking for critters. Over the years we've seen owls, eagles, bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, porcupines, foxes, beaver, and lots and lots of elk. Be prepared; I'm always running into them when I'm hiking. You go around a bend (especially at lower elevations) and Boom. There he is. Just tippy-toe around the critters. I've encountered many, and have never had a problem. You might see a moose (I almost ran into one of these once, too). They are supposed to be more dangerous -- but mine didn't know this, thank God. He just looked at me and went back to eating his grass. Also have seen many different species of birds.

My husband often does a half-day or full-day fly fishing trip through the YMCA. Not expensive, and the guy who runs the program is really nice. I don't think you have to be a guest at the Y to use this guide service. But the fishing is great just about anywhere you go in the area.

One restaurant not to miss is the Bald Pate Inn. It's a little bit of a drive but the place is just delightful. There are scores of hummingbirds, and you can sit out on their open patio and watch the hummingbird wars -- territorial little suckers! The food is a very tasty and extensive salad bar. Lots of yummy home-baked stuff included, too. We really don't go for the food -- more for the ambiance and quirky nature of the place. It's not expensive -- maybe $12 a person if I remember correctly.

There is also a very good breakfast place in the "Safeway" plaza. We always eat there on our way home. Good, healthy, tasty Colorado-style food, and great bakery items. The Mexican restaurant downtown is good, too.

Other things to enjoy: star watching. The stars are so bright and clear in Estes. Sometimes I'll bring a star chart, lie out on a blanket at night and try to find the constellations. For shopping, the town is fun. There's a very cool yarn/fiber shop where the owner does all of her own dyeing (if you're into that kind of thing).

The airway tram is nice to take at least once. Great views -- I think it's less than $10. Basically this little tram shoots you up the mountain a ways. At the top there are a lot of hiking trails and a zillion hungry chipmunks begging for treats. It is pretty, especially on a clear day.

Phew. These are just a few random thoughts -- pardon the disorganization. But the bottom line is that if you like the outdoors, I can't imagine having a bad vacation in Estes. It's a sweet town in an area that will take your breath away. Enjoy!

St. Louis
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3. Re: advices for a 8 days vacation at Rocky mountain national...

I think you are going to love Estes and will want to return often. Weve been visiting here for over 30 years and it never get old.

We like to stay at Wildwood Inn. Its away from town and near the entrance to the park. We've seen so many elk and sheep there. Its one of the great joys of our trip.

For dining we love Twin Owls Steak House, its a little pricy but a wonderful dining event. We also love Penelope's Hamburgers.

For things to do, hope you bring your hiking boots, the scenery is wonderful. There are some great trails that start at Bear Lake. I'm sure you will take Trail Ridge to the top several times. Be sure to go up at least once on the old Fall River Road. Its gravel and one-way but its so close to everything. Its a lot of fun.

You should be able to find Elk everywhere, sheep are usually around horseshoe park. For Moose you will need to travel to the west side of the park in some of the low lying streams. Its worth the trip.

There are so many things to do in Estes and the park you wont get bored. You might want to take some short trips to some of the sourounding areas like Lyons or Evergreen.


northern Colorado
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4. Re: advices for a 8 days vacation at Rocky mountain national...

I'm going to dissent here... I loathe Estes Park. The area around it is gorgeous but the town itself is overrun. My suggestion would be to spend 1-2 nights in Estes and then drive on to Grand Lake via Trail Ridge Road. Grand Lake has some great cabins/lodges, the Lake (of course) and a much more charming "Main Street" area. There is great hiking and many wildlife viewing opportunities.

5. Re: advices for a 8 days vacation at Rocky mountain national...

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